This is – as many of us can attest – the recession, and possible depression, of the overworked. Everyone who has a relatively secure income is working their backsides off because in most places you’re doing well to be doing what used to be done by two people. Doing the work of 3, 4 or even more is the norm. And that’s just on the day job. There’s still homes to keep more or less in order, sleep (which, strangely enough, happens whether you have time for it or not), food, and of course, writing.
Those whose job is writing are also working their backsides off because there’s less money for each book, so they have to write more books just to stay afloat – if that’s even possible. If they haven’t been quietly shown the back door by their publisher, or directed towards one of the more noxious “we’re not really a publisher but we’re going to do all that messy publisher-y stuff for you and, oh, yes, take a hefty chunk of anything it makes” agency Not-A-Publisher arrangements. Or they’ve gone indie.
No matter which, there’s more work in it. Every single one of my employed, contracting, or self-employed friends is busier than they’ve ever been in their lives. The authors who’ve gone indie not only need to write as much or more, they need to handle that icky business stuff, and worse promotion stuff. So do all the other authors, whether they think they do or not, but we won’t go there.
So, how do the chronically time-poor (especially those of us who have several jobs, acknowledged or not) manage?
I’m going to be blunt here: I don’t. I’ve run out of manage. After close to two years of the day job running flat out downhill and sitll gathering speed, I’m exhausted emotionally and physically. I’ve forgotten what it’s like to feel rested. Writing is down to the relatively rare occasions when I’ve got enough of a brain to focus on the page, and/or I’m facing deadline pressures and have to push. Fortunately, I can usually manage to shove a decent amount of wordage into a short period of time, although the quality can be… questionable.
I’ve been here before, and yes, I am looking for a way to back off as gracefully as possible. It’s complicated by losing what was my de-stress time to a visit from my mother. Don’t get me wrong, I love her dearly, but I’m finding I don’t have the emotional resources to handle the disruption to my de-stress routines. Routines that have, over the past two years, grown to require almost all my non-day-job time.
How do the rest of you deal with this almost-burnout? Where do you find space to decompress and unwind? And for those of you who are unemployed, how do you deal with the different but related set of issues?